Football surprises in Kansas City – a “Top Five” analysis of the 2023 NFL draft


Conner Shelton (Courtesy of Jeff Getsee)

The 2023 NFL draft’s first overall pick, Bryce Young, stands onstage with the commissioner on draft day in Kansas City.

Conner Shelton, Sports Editor

This year’s 2023 NFL draft took place in Kansas City, Missouri, home of Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

With no clear first pick this draft was full of surprises and was definitely worth tuning in to watch. 

With the first pick the Carolina Panthers planned to take a quarterback, however the quarterback they wanted to take was unclear. Bryce Young was the pick. Young had a terrific couple of years at the University of Alabama, leading the Tide to the National Championship game and winning the Heisman Trophy. 

However, many questioned Young’s height and weight when he decided to enter the 2023 draft. Standing at 5’10” and only weighing 194 pounds, many scouts compared him to Kyler Murray who also stands at 5’10”. Discounting all of the hate from people saying he is too small, Young says he knows how to work with his height. He looks to have a very successful career with a team that believes they are very close to winning the Super Bowl.

With the second pick in the draft, the Houston Texans took CJ Stroud which many say is a surprise. After scoring low on the S2 Cognition test many doubt Stroud’s ability. 

But in his three years at Ohio State, Stroud put up some impressive numbers that he hopes will prove doubters wrong. In his last year, the QB threw for 41 touchdowns while only throwing 6 INT’s. In the college football playoffs against Georgia, Stroud amazed people as he threw for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

This proves Stroud is NFL ready. The Texans are very happy to have him on their team.

The Texans then surprised a lot of people by trading back up to get the number three pick. The Texans went with Will Anderson, Jr. as the third pick. The linebacker from Alabama was very solid for the Tide in his three years with the team. Anderson recorded 34.5 sacks and 62 TFLs (tackle for loss). Anderson also ended up fifth in Heisman voting in 2021. 

Will Anderson is a worthy top five pick and the Texans were very smart to trade up and take a defensive weapon to add to their young team.

The Indianapolis Colts were on the clock with the 4th overall pick and their choice came as a surprise, too. Colts fans knew they needed a quarterback as Nick Foles had been the starter for most of the past season and the results were not as hoped. So the Colts took the athletic freak, Anthony Richardson. Richardson is relatively inexperienced as he was only a one year starter, but many believe he has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft. 

It all begins with his athletic ability. In the draft combine this year, Richardson put up some numbers that were unheard of not only with quarterbacks but also with position players. With a 40½” vertical jump, Richardson posted the highest vertical of any quarterback since at least 2003. He also posted a broad jump of 10’9” which was the highest by a quarterback since Matt Jones 20 years ago. 

So it’s safe to say the Colts got a great quarterback with a ton of potential to thrive in the fiercely physical NFL.

With the fifth pick the Seahawks took the cornerback from Illinois, Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school but has plenty of experience at the college level as he was a three year starter. In his last season, this corner specialist ended up with 41 total tackles and 3 interceptions. 

Pairing Witherspoon with another young cornerback, Tariq Woolen, makes the Seattle secondary scary to face. Look out for this team to make some noise this year.

One of the biggest media stories from the draft was the Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. Levis was projected to be a Top Five pick, however he ended up falling out of the first round. Levis was invited to the NFL draft and stayed backstage waiting to hear his name called. It never happened. No teams decided to take the chance on him. But the camera stayed focused on him after every pick. It was difficult to watch.

In the days, leading up to the draft, teams changed their opinions of him. While Levis played five seasons in college, three with Penn State and two with Kentucky, his last year at Kentucky was rough. Levis got banged up and struggled with a turf toe injury. Many believe this could be why Levis slipped so far. 

Eventually The Tennessee Titans chose Levis in the second round. Entering the NFL feeling something to prove might be a good thing, Levis hopes to make all the teams that passed up on him pay by becoming the best quarterback possible.

The top five picks definitely threw NFL fans and pundits in a whirlwind with teams trading up and down, surprise players being taken and other franchise players being picked. While draft picks aren’t always a future guarantee of success, a lot of rookies look to carry their new teams to the Lombardi Trophy.